Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Higher Calling


“There is nothing that improves a mountain view more than a nice bit of squiggly road going up it.”       --Max Leonard

Higher Calling: Road Cycling’s Obsession with the Mountains (2018) is the kind of wonderful book idea that I almost wish I had thought of myself: exploring the rich tradition and magic associated with ascending mountains on bicycles. Previous books have looked at cycling’s connection with particular peaks (think Peter Cossins’s Alpe d’Huez: The Story of Pro Cycling’s Greatest Climb or Jeremy Whittle’s Ventoux: Sacrifice and Suffering on the Giant of Provence) but British writer Max Leonard, author of the very fine Lanterne Rouge: The Last Man in the Tour de France (2014), and one of the brains behind the Rough Stuff Fellowship Archives, aims much higher. His book offers an ambitious, entertaining, and surprisingly wide-ranging account of our fascination not just with riding up (and down) mountain roads but with mountains in general.